Corrections to the text of a bill

30.83Throughout all the stages and proceedings in each House the bill itself continues in the custody of the Public Bill Office, and, with the exceptions mentioned below, no alteration is permitted to be made in it, without the express authority of the House or a committee, in the form of an amendment regularly put from the Chair, and recorded by the Clerks.1

A change to the text of a bill may be made by way of silent correction where in the judgment of the Public Bill Office a failure to correct would leave a minor imperfection, and where the proposed correction plainly reflects what would be generally assumed to be the intention of the author of the text, and is not of a nature to require the authorisation of the House. No change is permitted by way of silent correction in the clearly underlying intended meaning of the text.

Within that guiding principle, silent correction is generally allowed to internal or external cross-references where the original intention is self-evident; to punctuation, numbering or conjunction; to purely drafting points where the intention is clear; to typographical or grammatical errors, or errors as a result of varying practices on the identification of material to be omitted; to titles and headings, which are not technically part of the bill; and to non-operative provisions.2 The removal of an internal inconsistency does not necessarily justify a silent correction. Any alterations in a bill which are necessitated by the renumbering of clauses or by a change in the date of the citation title are also made by the Public Bill Office before the bill is reprinted at any stage.3 As to amendments made consequentially to a ‘Keeling schedule’, see para 28.117, fnn 3 and 4.

Footnotes

  1. 1. See eg 23 Parl Hist c 989.
  2. 2. An example of a non-operative provision would be a part of a textual amendment which described in brackets the provision being amended.
  3. 3. See HC Deb (1947–48) 446, cc 1873–75.